Rock ’n’ Roll Queen Tina Turner Dies After Long Illness
Legendary rock ‘n’ roll singer Tina Turner has died “peacefully” at the age of 83 after a long illness, her publicist told The Daily Beast on Wednesday.
Turner, who was known as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” started her storied career in 1957 with Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm, eventually launching an extraordinarily successful career as a solo artist.
In recent years, however, her health faltered. She was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016 and had a kidney transplant in 2017. Her cause of death was not released on Wednesday.
Turner died at her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland, her rep told The Daily Beast, adding, “With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”
A post on Turner’s official Instagram account paid tribute to her “boundless passion for life.”
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tina Turner,” the post said. “With her music and her boundless passion for life, she enchanted millions of fans around the world and inspired the stars of tomorrow. Today we say goodbye to a dear friend who leaves us all her greatest work: her music. All our heartfelt compassion goes out to her family. Tina, we will miss you dearly.”
Tina Turner Never Pretended Her Story Had a Happy Ending
Turner—born Anna Mae Bullock on Nov. 26, 1939—was raised in Nutbush, Tennessee, where she sang in the town’s church choir. As a teenager, she convinced Ike to let her join his band when she performed BB King’s “You Know I Love You” in St. Louis.
Ike brought her on and the two became musical and romantic partners, eventually marrying in 1962. But as Turner would later reveal, Ike quickly became abusive. He gave her the name “Tina Turner” then trademarked it so that if she left him, he could replace her in his band.
“For a long time I felt like I was stuck, with no way out of the unhealthy situation I was in,” Turner said of her marriage in a 2021 interview with the Harvard Business Review. “Not knowing where I was headed or what I could do to get out was painful.”
But Turner and Ike divorced in 1978, and Turner started focusing only on her solo career.
Tina Turner doing Proud Mary is unforgettable. 🔥
— Ryan Shead (@RyanShead) May 24, 2023
For years, she didn’t find much success. That all changed with the release of her album Private Dancer in 1984, which propelled her to global superstardom in an all-time musical comeback. The album went certified 5x Platinum in the U.S. and sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
“I never considered giving up on my dreams,” she said in the 2021 interview. “You could say I had an invincible optimism.”
From then on, her legacy was set.
Turner went on to become one of the most successful solo artists in the world. She won 12 Grammy Awards, was the first Black artist and the first woman to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone, and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice—once alongside Ike and another as a solo performer.
She went on a dozen tours, starting in 1977 with the “Tina Turner Tour” and ending in 2009 with “Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour,” after which she announced her retirement from performing.
In recent years, Turner shifted her focus to musical theater. Tina, an autobiographical musical based on her life story, opened in London in 2018, and came to Broadway the following year.
Turner is also the author of several books. A longtime devout Buddhist, she released Happiness Becomes You in 2020, which detailed her spiritual journey that she says guided her through her early years of abuse and turmoil.
I’m so saddened by the passing of my wonderful friend Tina Turner.
She was truly an enormously talented performer and singer. She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young and I will never forget her. pic.twitter.com/TkG5VrdxXO
— Mick Jagger (@MickJagger) May 24, 2023
“After I began adopting Buddhist principles, I developed a strong sense of purpose,” she said in 2021. I also gained clear self-awareness of my potential to lift myself out of any problem and turn it into something of value, to transform any destructive negativity into hope-filled creativity and joy.
“I’m not superhuman,” she continued. “I’m just a lady from Nutbush, Tennessee. If I can do it, we all can.”
A private funeral ceremony will be held for Turner’s close friends and family, her representative said.
—with additional reporting by Pilar Melendez
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